Wellington students returning to study will probably notice the brand new building sitting centre stage on campus. Massey University’s new creative arts building Te Ara Hihiko was opened in Wellington by Sir Richard Taylor, New Zealander of the Year and award-winning Design and Effects Supervisor for Weta Workshop.
The building’s advanced seismic engineering will make it one of the most resilient buildings in the city. It is the first in the world to use a post-tensioned timber seismic frame, which flexes like a push-puppet toy during earthquakes. In production testing, the key structural features of the building were found to withstand ground shaking and acceleration greater than that experienced in the Christchurch February 2011 earthquake.
Massey University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says the building represents a bold investment by the University in the future of New Zealand. “New Zealand needs to embrace design, creativity and innovation because that’s what this century is all about. Massey’s investment in this building is about ensuring we continue to produce world-leading designers who are not only creative but entrepreneurial, business savvy and globally connected. In particular, this building will help us attract top international postgraduate students in line with the government’s vision for tertiary education.” The final cost of the building is expected to be under its $20 million budget.
Weta Workshop’s Sir Richard Taylor is a Massey alumnus and member of the College of Creative Arts Hall of Fame. During the opening, he placed a time capsule into a chamber in the building where it will remain for 50 years. The capsule was designed and produced by the college. It contains works on paper by creative arts staff and students, bitmaps of digital files, specially dried seeds of kowhai trees from the Wellington campus, and a taonga designed by Lyn Garrett of Te Ati Awa.
The building was dedicated by mana whenua, who gifted the building name Te Ara Hihiko to the college. Professor Ross Hemera, the college’s Kaiwhakaahua, explains that Te Ara Hihiko means, broadly, a pathway to creativity. “It is a tremendous honour for us to receive this name from mana whenua, and strengthens our relationship with the Tenths Trust, Te Ati Awa and Taranaki Whanui,” Professor Hemera says.
College of Creative Arts Pro Vice-Chancellor Associate Professor Claire Robinson says staff and students are looking forward to moving in for semester two. “We have a state-of-the-art building here that is unrivalled in New Zealand. The spaces and the facilities will inspire our students to create work we can’t even imagine yet, taking New Zealand creativity to a new level.” Dr Robinson says the industry-standard facilities open up more opportunities to expand the college’s already strong links with industry.
The building provides the College of Creative Arts with: More functional workspaces that inspire creativity and innovation, facilities that match or exceed the best in industry, such as a new green screen for filmmaking, a digital-audio lab for interactive art and design projects, flexible gallery spaces for showcasing student and staff work and international touring exhibitions, and spaces of the standard required for accreditation to host top flight international postgraduate students.
The building combines Massey’s creative vision with architectural design by Athfield Architects and engineering by Dunning Thornton Consultants. Construction was project managed by Arrow International.